Tag Archives: constitution

Little Red Book

Red BookWe have just received another copy of the Constitution, courtesy of the ACLU.  The office is glutted with them already.  Maybe we’ll hand them out for Halloween.  It’s nice that the left leaning ACLU still takes the trouble.  We have heard that only “tea party anarchists” make a fetish of this antique document.

Seriously, if you had just liberated your country last week, you could do worse.  The Constitution is a marvel of organizational design.  It solves the problem of representation, organizes the separation of powers, checks and balances, and protects civil rights.

America’s Constitution was based on the leading thinkers of the day, like Locke and Montesquieu, who have not been equaled since ­– and no one insults the First Law of Thermodynamics just because it’s old.

If you haven’t read it, you should.  As an aid to non English readers, Jeremiah presents a simplified text.  The original text is here.  If you listen to those who wish to sidestep the Constitution, they generally call for a powerful central government with few checks and no delegation.  They are reading that other little red book.

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Filed under Liberty

Above the Law

Here is the latest from Thomas Sowell.  This is a right-wing paper, but Sowell makes a point that should resonate with both sides.  Regardless of how you feel about the Dream Act, NCLB, or workfare, you should be uncomfortable with the President – any President – overruling Congress.

Jeremiah has written about this before.  Our Constitution divides power between Congress and the President for good reason.  It ensures “a government of laws, and not of men.”  Sowell goes on to apply the term “banana republic.”

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Filed under Center Field

Same-Sex Unemployment

Jeremiah is a staunch supporter of gay rights, but we’re going to have to give the economy top priority this year.  The candidates have starkly differing views on the role of government, and this will have far-reaching consequences.  If you are gay and you favor a big central government, your choice is easy.  Barack Obama is the man for you.  On the other hand, if you are a gay entrepreneur, then you have a dilemma.

It’s too bad there is not a third party that features capitalism and civil rights (see Jeremiah’s four quadrants).  Fortunately, the Federal government is not actually the venue for rights issues.  That venue is the judiciary, with legislative input at the state level.  Greybeard activists will recall Brown v. Board of Education.

Here’s how it shakes out.  Under the 14th Amendment, states may legislate additional rights but they cannot subtract from your “basic” rights.  So, the first line of appeal for gay rights is your state legislature.  If gay marriage passes there, you’re done.  This is how marijuana is being legalized, one state at a time.

If yours is an intolerant, defense-of-marriage state, then you will have to sue.  Note that you must suffer an “injury” first, like being denied health coverage, and then you must sue the relevant state department.  As these lawsuits multiply, Federal courts – and ultimately the Supreme Court – will find that marriage, or at least its civil benefits, is a basic right of all Americans.

This is a long process, but it’s the only one.  Congress and the President will not settle this matter, any more than they have settled the abortion issue, racism, or women’s rights.  We are still waiting for that Equal Rights Amendment.  By the way, the Brown verdict was 9-0.  It didn’t need a packed bench or judicial activism.  The time for justice had come.

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Filed under Civil Rights

Separation of Powers

America’s Constitution lays out a sensible division of labor.  Congress sets the budget, and the president runs the country.  Congress makes laws, and the Supreme Court checks their work.  On a good day, everyone plays their position and things run smoothly.

Lately, though, the partisan culture war has overwhelmed these fine distinctions.  There is only “us versus them.”  Never mind which branch of government is relevant.  They must all pile in to defend our special interests.

For an example, choose any of the hot-button rights issues.  These are the province of state and federal legislatures, with escalation to the courts.  They are mostly not the province of the Executive – unless the Executive should choose to “bypass Congress” and rule by fiat, which in turn comes to the courts.

The pundits love this – we’ve got one chamber of Congress, but they’ve got the other. There are five of ours versus four of theirs on the Supreme Court.  We need to elect “one of us” as President, so that we can pack the Supreme Court.

If the culture war continues to trample our Constitution, it will do lasting damage to the Republic.

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Judicial Restraint

Yesterday, the Supreme Court deliberated on whether the Affordable Care Act could still stand if they were to rule that the “individual mandate” is unconstitutional.  For the record, Jeremiah supports the individual mandate.  Congress could easily have avoided the constitutional challenge by making it a tax instead of a fine.  The Court, though, seems likely to strike it down.  So, what happens to the rest of the Act?

Everybody, including Chief Justice Roberts, seems to endorse the concept of judicial “restraint.”  As opposed to “activism,” this means making narrow rulings and not reaching beyond the Court’s proper role.  Roberts famously quipped that, “if it is not necessary to decide more, then it is necessary not to decide more.”

Restraint, unfortunately, can argue both ways.  Justice Scalia has said that if the mandate goes, then the whole Act must go.  Supporters of the Act describe the mandate as its “core.”  On the other hand, Justice Ginsburg has called for “salvaging” what’s left of the Act.  That sounds like restraint, because it reduces the impact of a ruling against the mandate – but it would mean the Supreme Court rewriting the Act, and that’s not their job.

The likeliest outcome, and the most restrained, is that the Court will rule narrowly against the mandate, and let Congress decide what to do next.  They can then write the mandate into the tax code.

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